A Journey in the
The Photographic Art of Millard Arnold
“The Way…. A Journey in the Exploration of Self”, is my continuing meditation on the subject of Taoism, the ancient, underlying philosophy of Chinese thought. “Inner Visions…. Reflections on the Tao”, was showcased in South Africa in 2017, and “Reality…. Renegotiated,” was presented at the Franschhoek Literary Festival in South Africa in 2018.
This exhibition, done at the request of Ambassador and Mrs. McCarthy, is perhaps the most ambitious expression yet of my enduring engagement with Taoism. The exhibition presents a narrative on not only on the artistic works displayed herein but incorporates previous references to images that have formed the bulk of my creative work over the past half decade[i]. It also marks the first time that I have pivoted away from abstraction in conveying Taoism, to integrating realism in transmitting the message. The nine images selected by Ambassador and Mrs McCarthy were challenging in numerous ways, as I sought to communicate the timeless wisdom of Taoism: from one of a curative perspective to one of internal cohesiveness.
Through Taoism, my concern as a photographer has been to capture the beauty and complexity of nature in a methodology and sensitivity that offers a new way to perceive and comprehend the tranquillity found in the Tao. The quest was always one of how to depict nature’s beauty in artistic ways that provoke, inspire, arouse, and stimulate a passion for novel discovery. It has been my devoted mission to seek to alter perceptions of what we see and know by allowing mundane and ordinary subjects to become extraordinary with an imaginative shift in perspective.
As the Tao reminds us, the known and unknown; the seen and the unseen are but one and the same and only when their underlying oneness is understood is there balance, and through balance only then can there be inner harmony.
The initial series of works were firmly grounded in the school of abstract expressionism, but differed radically in that the images that were produced, sought to blur blur the distinct between photography and abstract painting by marrying the clinical technology of photography with the emotionally spontaneity of painting. My photographic works are an attempt to decipher the patterns of the natural world unlocking a visually mystifying journey created by the inversion of colours, shapes, forms, and composition
I am wedded to the idea of abstraction because abstraction allows you to appreciate the essence of substance. Abstraction allows you to find beauty in the quintessential elements such as line, shape, hue, texture and structure. Nonetheless, artistic expression challenges one to overcome artificial boundaries by constantly expanding the notion of limitations.
The works selected by Ambassador and Mrs McCarthy forced me to go beyond my self-imposed boundaries of what could and should be the means of expressing concepts of Taoism. It need not only be abstraction, but principles could equally be expressed in measures that are far more familiar. Thus, there is a philosophical and visual transition from the abstract to the real from image four in the exhibition, Once the Whole Is Divided; The Parts Need Names to image five, Teetering on the brink of perfect balance. Philosophically, image four finds itself confronted with the notion of the whole disintegrating, whilst in image five, the transition away from the abstract to the real is captured in the thought of teetering on the brink of a whole that is divided, giving rise to an entirely new visual paradigm which becomes the remainder of the exhibition. Yet, unsurprisingly, this transition is entirely in conformity with the Tao which is about accepting “what is, because “what is” is the lesson that nature so aptly teaches.
In each of the nine images that constitutes this exhibit, what I have sought to do is to help the viewer suspend the mental constructs of reality, to discard conventional thinking and to liberate his or her own consciousness, to bring into being, a blinding kaleidoscope of a new and altogether exhilarating universe. In other words, as in the teachings of the Tao, let go of all assumptions, and the world will make perfect sense….
“The Way…. A Journey in the Exploration of Self”, is an unapologetic appeal to intuition and emotion. In some instances, the richly vibrant hues are compelling; in others, the enigmatic illusions are fixating, and in still others, the seamless fusion of space and colour is what becomes riveting. It is, I believe, a contextual juxtaposition of vivid energy and reflective sentiment that allows the viewer to be absorbed into and engaged with a world of another dimension, a world that has been photographically configured with a subtle intensity of shifting perceptions that unequivocally alter our mundane notions of realism. In so doing, a deeper, more profound appreciation of the simplistic is possible; a deeper, more profound appreciation of the Tao is probable.
[i] Images can be accessed via the attached QR codes